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Drag on Society Donald Trump Angered Over the Legal Release of His Questionable Tax Returns

The emperor has no clothes.

PALM BEACH, FLORIDA - NOVEMBER 15: Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during an event at his Mar-a-Lago home on November 15, 2022 in Palm Beach, Florida. Trump announced that he was seeking another term in office and officially launched his 2024 presidential campaign.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Since Donald Trump was running for president in 2016, he has refused to release his tax returns. Every major presidential candidate, and every person to hold the office in modern times, has released at least some of their tax returns to the public. It is supposed to be an act of transparency, showing the president has nothing to hide. The president isn’t supposed to be leading the country for financial gain.

One of Trump’s favorite excuses why he couldn’t release his tax returns was because he was being audited by the IRS, which has always been BS. I always thought he didn’t want to show his financials to America because it would either show that he is a broke fraud who claims to be super rich or it would show foreign bank accounts and questionable dealings. Well, the House Ways and Means Committee has just released Trump’s tax returns from 2016 to 2020, and it seems like he’s not a great businessman, and he has questionable foreign assets!

Why did the House Ways and Means Committee release Donald Trump’s tax returns?

In 2019, the head of the House Ways and Means Committee asked to see the IRS audit reports on then-sitting president Donald Trump. The IRS revealed they were not doing the mandatory audits as they have done for every other president. So, Trump’s claims of perpetually being audited were lies. (I know, I’m shocked too.) The IRS only started one audit during Trump’s time in office, not before, and the IRS never completed the audit.

Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal made a statement with the released returns, reiterating the need for transparency in such a high office. He said, “Our work has always been to ensure our tax laws are administered fairly and without preference, because at times, even the power of a president can loom too large.”

How much did Trump pay in taxes?

Here is a summary of Donald and Melania Trump’s federal tax payments for his years running for president and while in office:

2015 – Declared negative income of $31.7 million, paid $641,931 in federal income tax.

2016 – Declared negative income of $32.2 million, paid $750 in federal income tax.

2017 – Declared negative income of $12.8 million, paid $750 in federal income tax.

2018 – Declared income of $24.4 million, paid $999,466 in federal income tax.

2019 – Declared income of $4.44 million, paid $133,445 in federal income tax.

2020 – Declared negative income of $4.69 million, claimed a REFUND of $5.47 million.

Of the six years investigated, Trump only made a profit for two of the years—on paper. He declared the other years losses, and he paid varying amounts in taxes. My favorite was in 2020, Trump wanted a return (or would the Republicans call it a government handout?) for vastly more money than the average American makes in a year. I understand how business income works. Some years you make a profit, while other years may leave you in debt. However, it seems odd that the guy who claims to be the master businessman had such profound losses for years on end. Let’s also not forget that a jury in the state of New York found the Trump Organization guilty of tax fraud.

Trump released a deranged statement saying that his tax returns show how “successful” he is (spoiler: he’s not). He also said that the release of the returns will “lead to horrible things for so many people.” I am so sick of people (see: Republicans) acting like getting out of paying federal taxes means you are doing something good or just being smart about using tax breaks available to you. Taxes exist to pay for our society to function. Many of the Founding Fathers (the same ones that the GOP love to put on pedestals) agreed taxes were necessary. Thomas Jefferson said taxes were in place to pay for the debts and general welfare of the country.

Trump’s lack of paying taxes—or even worse, the huge refund—doesn’t mark him as a savvy money man. Instead, it shows how he is bankrupting the county, especially when it looks like some of his tax avoidance tricks may go beyond even the legal ways many rich people avoid taxes. (Which there was already reason to suspect.) Do you know who contributes to America more than him? Literally almost anyone else. Right now, the lowest tax bracket is 10% for a single person making just over $10,000 annually. Of course, there are deductions for things like dependents or disabilities, but even someone who falls under the federal poverty line could pay more in federal income taxes than Trump and his wife paid in 2015 and 2016.

Much of the tax evasion performed by Trump and other ultra-rich people is perfectly legal because of businesses funding politicians. It all goes with the lie that trickle-down economics work. The people with mountains of money like to convince the “common folk” that if they have more money to spend, then they’ll be able to pay the rest of us more money to spend and the economy will do well. This is also part of why Republicans are against higher minimum wages and livable incomes. However, in practice, the money pools at the top and becomes rolled into generational wealth while the rest of us dutifully pay our taxes and wonder how we are going to cover our monthly expenses. So, keep this in mind when the GOP claims that low-income folks are the dregs of society when the wealthy get more money from the government than many will see in their lifetimes.

(featured image: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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D.R. Medlen is secretly a selkie that will one day return to the sea. In the meantime, she spends her days fangirling over anything from comic books to folklore podcasts, and everything in between. She lives that hobbitcore life while teaching her offspring the ways of the nerd.